Great news that Jeff Corwin, with backing from Clorox (the first corporate sponsor of Amphibian Ark), has taped a documentary on the amphibian mass extinction that premieres this November on Animal Planet. Here’s what I cut and pasted from Animal Planet’s Web site:

Animal Planet and Clorox have joined forces to focus worldwide attention on the deadly fungus that is destroying frogs and other amphibian populations around the world through a new multimedia project called The Vanishing Frog. The film, produced by Discovery Studios, sends Animal Planet’s Jeff Corwin on a worldwide mission to uncover clues to the frog’s deadly plight while also unifying viewers with a common cause of environmental and wildlife protection. The Vanishing Frog is slated to premiere Fall 2008.

From the rocky streams of coastal Australia to the jungles of South America, and even to the American West, the world’s frogs are mysteriously vanishing at alarming rates. Frogs and their relatives have thrived on earth for more than 360 million years, but now they’re under serious threat. Experts believe that as many as one-third to one-half of the planet’s 6,000 amphibian species are in danger of disappearing — victims of one of the most significant mass extinctions since the dinosaurs. Why are amphibians in such dire straits? And can we take action to save them? Jeff Corwin, who has experienced the most mammoth of mammals, reptiles and marine life worldwide, will take on these questions in the documentary The Vanishing Frog.

“Frogs are incredibly amazing creatures with a variety of astonishing skills and innate abilities,” commented Corwin. “The plight of the small amphibians is — unfortunately — quite large. Frogs have been with us since the dinosaurs; they are a critical part of the ecosystem and now they are disappearing.”

“Jeff is so passionate about raising awareness for this crisis and has such a deep knowledge of the issues affecting these fascinating creatures that he is the perfect person to take us on this journey of discovery,” noted Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet. “We’re thrilled that our partner Clorox has been an ardent advocate for the amphibian crisis and is taking that commitment even further by partnering with us to produce The Vanishing Frog documentary project.”

Clorox, whose namesake bleach is used in the field everyday in the battle to save the frogs, last fall became the first corporate sponsor of the Amphibian Ark’s “Year of the Frog” initiative and signed on to The Vanishing Frog project while it was still in development.

It’s taken a lot of patience and hard work by the scientists associated with Amphibian Ark, but the organization has just launched its first species naming auction – the first of five that will happen during this 5 for Frogs summer. Details of the auction and the new Ecuadorian species are pasted below — pretty cool that it’s a frog that walks instead of hops. When this auction is through, the auctioneer should yell at the top of his lungs, GOING … GOING … SAVED! If you know people who could write a big check to save amphibians, and would find it really cool to name a new species, please make sure they see this right away.

And, how cool is it that Jeff Corwin and Jean-Michele Cousteau are lending their names to this?!

NEWS RELEASE–Amphibian Ark, a global conservation organization formed in an effort to help save the worlds amphibians from mass extinction, is announcing its first frog naming rights auction, beginning immediately. The highest bid made on www.CharityBuzz.com will win the naming rights to a newly discovered species in the genus Osornophryne, an endangered walking frog indigenous to the remote Andes Mountains in Ecuador.

From one-third to one-half of the planets 6,000 amphibian species frogs and toads, salamanders and newts, and caecilians are in danger of extinction and the walking frog is no exception. The causes for these declines and extinctions come in different forms, including habitat loss, climate change, emerging diseases, pollution, and over-collection for food and pets.

After thriving for 360 million years, frogs are in harms way, said Jean-Michel Cousteau, supporter of Amphibian Ark and founder of the Oceans Future Society. Because amphibians are the first to feel the effects of environmental stressors that could ultimately harm humans, the time to act is now.

Walking frogs are known for having no tadpoles; instead hatched eggs release froglets. And, instead of jumping, they walk slowly along the forests of the Andes.

The winning bidders selected name will be published in a scientific journal. Arrangements can also be made to tour the conservation facilities in Ecuador that will protect the species, and see other endangered amphibians in their natural habitat.

The proceeds will be used by Amphibian Ark partners in Ecuador to save some of the countrys most endangered amphibian species including the new, walking frog. The auction is being conducted by CharityBuzz.

Auctioning off naming rights for species is a growing tactic by wildlife protection organizations to raise the funds necessary to protect our planets biodiversity. Recent auctions have allowed philanthropists to name butterflies, monkeys, and fish.

We are very proud to be working with Amphibian Ark in their incredibly worthy project to help raise money to protect endangered amphibians, said Coppy Holzman, CEO of CharityBuzz.com. Based on our prior species naming experience, we fully expect this series of frog naming auctions to be very successful and encourage everyone to visit the site and aid this worthy cause.

In order to make a bid or learn more about Amphibian Ark and the new walking frog species, please visit http://www.charitybuzz.com/area.do?id=773.

Amphibian Ark is a partnership between the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, and IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. It was formed to develop, promote, and guide short term captive management of threatened amphibians, making possible the long-term survival of species for which adequate protection in the wild is not currently possible. For additional information about Amphibian Ark please visit www.amphibianark.org.

This is a really great, new video of Jean-Michel Cousteau explaining his personal commitment to Amphibian Ark and overviewing the amphibian extinction crisis. Check out the photo of him and his father, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and the frog menagerie that Jean-Michel has in his home office.

Amphibian Ark truly is fortunate to have a dream team of conservationist “celebrities” supporting our cause: Jean-Michel is joined by Sir David Attenborough and Jeff Corwin in lending time and talent to make the world take notice that we are in danger of losing up to half of the world’s 6,000 amphibian species. Note that the video ends with the new 5 for Frogs campaign logo. Hope you will get involved. 

The day Jeff Corwin and Ellen DeGeneres jumped aboard Amphibian Ark.

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